General election candidates urged to protect £8bn equestrian industry

  • The equestrian world is urging parliamentary candidates not to ignore its needs ahead of the 2019 general election.

    The British Horse Council (BHC) is the collective voice of the equine sector and its manifesto, published yesterday (5 December), reminds candidates that the industry is the second-largest rural employer in the country.

    The equine sector is worth £8bn to the UK economy and collectively has the potential for 4.4m votes. This is broken down into 1.3m voters who ride regularly, and 3.1m who would like to ride again.

    Welfare, rates paid by riding schools and the need for skilled labour are among the key issues.

    “Our manifesto is a punchy summary of the areas that are of vital importance to us within the equine sector,” said BHC chairman and leading equine vet David Mountford.

    “We aim to make as many people as possible aware of the scope of our industry, the horse’s contribution to society and the things we would like newly elected parliamentarians to focus on when they first step into office.”

    In terms of riding, the BHC is lobbying for improved sustainable access to safe on- and off-road riding; promotion of the sport as a great physical activity and protection from unfair taxes on riding schools.

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    Under health and welfare, the group calls for protection against infectious equine disease, resources to enforce welfare legislation, continued availability of veterinary medicines and licensing of equine sanctuaries and rehoming centres. It also calls for the promotion of the UK’s international leadership in advancing high standards of horse health and welfare across equine sports.

    The BHC asks candidates to recognise the industry’s skilled labour needs, from grooms to vets, in any future immigration system, and to ensure smooth movement of horses with high health status in any future arrangement with the EU.

    It also calls for support to grow the British horse industry internationally, protection for those who work in the industry, a simple and easy-to-use horse ID system and support for Britain’s “ world-leading racing and horse sport sector”.

    The general election takes place on Thursday, 12 December.

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